Five Little Christmas Stories: Women’s Troubles, Family Problems, Yankee Flop, Jaywalking and Diet Coke

While I patiently wait for my Mac to get fixed (estimated by the Apple repair people to take “best case a couple days, could be up to a week, worst case a lot longer than that”…coulda just said “two days to infinity”), let’s empty out the notebook with some short stories that are vaguely relevant to my trip back to Boston and Fitchburg over Christmas. There actually is no notebook to empty because all my brilliant blog ideas get stored on a file on my computer, which you might have heard is in the shop. So these are all based on my fuzzy memory.

1). The Moment I Decided It’s OK to Stereotype Women

Poor Julie deals with a lot of shit from me, never more so than when I’m bugging her about how she’s making us late for something. I hate to throw her under the bus in such a public forum, but there’s some kind of built-in trigger inside her that will never allow her to be on time for anything. Sometimes it’s because of the 123 wardrobe changes moments before it’s time to leave. More often it’s not being able to find a crucial item as we’re about to walk out the door (wallet, ID, phone, sunglasses…by the way, you know how you avoid this problem? You simply put your belongings in the same place every time. I guarantee most men have their wallets, cell phone and keys either in the pocket of the pants they’re currently wearing or on their bureau…most likely on the same damn spot of the bureau every time). Anyway, where was I? Oh right. So I’ve been trying to give women the benefit of the doubt, because why should Julie ruin it for everyone else. But then there was the day I was leaving Fitchburg to go back into Boston last week. My sister (sorry, but the internet doesn’t have the capacity needed for me to describe how I have a sister, you’ll just have to trust me)…my sister decided to get a ride into Boston with me, and I told her we needed to leave the house at 1:30. After all, I had a set time to meet Julie and her Dad, and like me he’s a man who enjoys being punctual. It was 11am when I told her our departure time. Her response? “No problem, I can be ready in 30 seconds.” Really? Because I know you still have two loads of laundry to do and the casualness with which you’re sitting on the couch watching TV right now is making me very nervous. Fast forward to 1pm and she’s yelling down the stairs to me, “Ross, you said we’re leaving around two, right?” Long story short, if it wasn’t for her mother literally packing her suitcase for her, we’d still be in Fitchburg right now. So she gets her shit together by 1:30, oozing with pride at being on time. We jump in the car and she tells me, “OK I just need to stop by the bank and then get an iced coffee and we can get the hell outta here.”

Which brings me to my next point: You’re not allowed to say you’re ready and then spring last-second to-do’s on me as if they don’t count towards us being late. Another great example: Just last night Julie and I were getting ready to go see a movie. We both decided we should leave by 7:10. At that exact time, she says she’s ready. But then she craves a hot tea to bring to the movie so we just have to brew that bad boy up real quick. And do I happen to know where she can find our straws for the tea? No problem, we can just search the kitchen for a few minutes.

Here’s my final point on this topic. I get so stressed out from trying to plan to be on time for things that I’m worried it’s going to lead to my eventual death. So my one resolution for New Year’s is to not stress or make a fuss when we’re inevitably late for everything. I’ll just hope that the women in my life eventually figure out that being on time can be beneficial. Until then, I just want you all to know that it’s not my fault I was late to your wedding, our double date, your funeral. I was ready in plenty of time.

And now for some much shorter stories…

2). Where I Sound Like An Inconsiderate Prick But I’m Really Not

I love my family. I love my friends. I love my family’s friends. But when my Dad said he was having some people over last Sunday to see my new nephew and lay gifts at his feet, I couldn’t help but be worried (I don’t think my Dad technically called it a “viewing of the Messiah” on the invite, but I imagine the three kings’ visit to Jesus’ manger was a lot like what went down at this party, only this time there were about 75 more people and 40 more empty bottles of liquor). I was worried because you may have heard that Sunday is when a lot of awesome football is on TV. And when friends and family you haven’t seen in years are around, it looks really douchey to stare right through them at the TV while they’re trying to tell you how awesome their grandkids are. Of course chances are you won’t miss anything that amazing by taking your eyes off the TV and then just check in every now and then on the score. But my brothers and I thought that on December 20, 2003, when another family gathering was happening on a football Sunday. And you know what we missed because we couldn’t stare at the TV or hear the sound of it? We missed the Joe Namath “I wanna kiss you” moment. To this day I resent my family just a little bit for making me miss that. So I’ll reiterate that I love my family and friends, and I’m so happy they all wanna get together when I’m home. But can we please schedule these things on a Saturday next time? I don’t wanna have to pretend to have explosive diarrhea just so I can take my computer into the bathroom and pull up the Red Zone Channel while I sit on the toilet not actually diarrheaing.

3). The Worst Yankee Swap Of All Time

So my brother sent out an email on December 8th to the side of the family we were opening gifts with on Christmas morning to see if everyone wanted to do a Yankee Swap. All six of us immediately replied yes, and we set a $20 suggested limit on the gifts. Everyone involved is an adult with the ability to go to a store and make a purchase or go online and order an item. But when the dust settled on the worst Yankee Swap Ever, here’s what we had:

  • An electronic key finder that the buyer admitted was meant for only one specific person in the swap—always a good idea to buy a gift specific to a person when the game is literally a random drawing.
  • The first season of Homeland on DVD. Not actually a bad gift at all in theory, but we quickly discovered that almost all the potential recipients had either already seen it or had just gotten the DVD as a gift from someone else.
  • Two $10 scratch tickets that were purchased at about 5pm on December 24th when the buyer realized he had forgotten about the Swap entirely.
  • Two more $10 scratch tickets that were purchsed 30 minutes before the Swap was set to go down, not because this buyer forgot about it, but because he was literally holding out hope til the last minute that we’d change our minds about doing it (rumor has it he went into the gas station, bought the tickets, got back into his car, decided one of the tickets he was holding was lucky and didn’t want someone else to win a bunch of money, so he scratched it, won nothing and had to run back into the store to buy the 2nd half of the “gift” again).
  • A bottle of special hot sauce that at first seemed like a thoughtful gift, but later we discovered that this person found a random case of abandoned hot sauce so she decided to give a bottle as gifts to the whole family.
  • And then two actual useful gifts.

I dare you to find a less successful Yankee Swap.

4). The Strangest Monologue I Heard All Week

While waiting to cross the street in downtown Boston last Saturday, I heard a guy behind me say, “That’s the only thing I liked about California when I visited. They actually give tickets for jaywalking. Seriously, I got a ticket for that when I was out there. And I was happy about it…It’s the only thing about California that made any sense to me.”

5). Finally Taking Credit For Starting The Coolest Trend in Soda History

I’m beaming with pride as I write this: I was the first person who ever drank Diet Coke purely for the taste. Many people drank it before me because they were on a diet, or because they were diabetic, or maybe even because their mom was on a diet and it’s the only soda she’d allow in the house. But no one before me ever tasted Diet Coke and thought “Mmm, even if given a choice between regular and diet, I’d go with the diet.” I estimate I started this trend in the summer of 1989. After doing some research, I learned that Diet Coke came out in August of 1982. That’s a seven-year gap where someone could have presumably beat me to the punch. But no way. Because you know people probably resisted it over the first few years. People were used to that super-sweet taste of regular Coke and when they took a sip of this new diet concoction, they all probably said, “Ew gross, why couldn’t they make this taste more like the regular stuff?” But not me. A little six-year-old boy was running around his country club in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in 1989 saying, “This Diet Coke stuff is the shit…I wanna drink at least one a day.” Now you can’t go anywhere in public without someone gushing about how much they crave Diet Coke. A little credit would be nice. You know what else I could take credit for? Being the first person to decide fountain soda wasn’t just marginally better than canned or bottled soda, but infinitely better. Give me a good fountain Diet Coke and then shoot me in the face. I’ll go happily.

Final note on this: If you’re a Diet Coke connoseuir like myself, you definitely have a hierarchy of which fast food places have the best fountain soda. Burger King for sure has the worst. McDonald’s is OK, and Wendy’s is pretty good. But give me a choice and I’m going with the fountain D.C. from Five Guys or In-n-Out.

Oh and the best part about all this is that I actually got someone to admit last Friday night that I did start the “Diet Coke for pure taste” trend. Slowly but surely this thing is gonna pick up steam.

6). One Final Bonus Story Just Because I’m Feeling Guilty

I broke someone’s Yo-Yo at my Dad’s house on Christmas night. I have no idea whose it was or what kind of sentimental value it might have had. And I didn’t tell anyone. I just watched it break and then put it down on the coffee table like it was a working Yo-Yo that I was done playing with. So to whoever’s toy that was, I’m not sorry…it was a cheap Yo-Yo. But I guess I owe you like a buck twenty-six or something. Let me know who to make the check out to.

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Week 15 Review: Belichick Runs Up the Score against San Francisco, Technology Revolts Against Me and Much More

Why is this review coming so much later than usual? And why is it the smallest amount of words I’ve ever written for a review? And why is it likely the least interesting NFL weekly review a person could read? Because over the past three days, technology decided to rise up and take a stand against me.

On the Sunday with the most interesting slate of football games in recent memory, my WiFi decided to shit the bed about two hours before kickoff. And when I called my sorry excuse for an internet service provider (who’s supposed to be open for tech support all day on Sundays), I was presented with a recording that said, “If you’re calling on December 7th, tech support will be closed early, but please leave a message and they will call you back on December 8th.” Not very helpful to someone calling on December 16th. No internet means I was forced to watch football on only one screen Sunday morning! The humanity! Let’s just say for the first 14 weeks of the season, my computer has been essential to watching extra games, taking notes, reading all the experts’ twitter feeds, etc. I felt neutered without that stuff.

Of course things went from bad to worse on Monday when my MacBook charger decided it would no longer be doing its one and only job. But then I discovered Monday afternoon that if I held the charger’s wire at a specific angle, it would charge up my laptop. So for a while yesterday I decided I’d just live like that and avoid paying $80 for a new Mac charger. But then last night, after all retail stores were closed, the charger could not be manipulated to work any longer. Long story short, the Apple store near me doesn’t open until 10AM so I’ve had no computer access all morning. Oh, and just to add insult to injury, my microwave decided to make my breakfast colder this morning. Fucking electronics.

Anyway, I’m back in action with WiFi and a computer, but now I’m feeling the Christmas pinch where I have to get a million things done between today and Friday when I leave for Boston. Needless to say, football is going to take a little bit of a back seat over these next 10 days.

And maybe that’s just the thing I need to snap back to my winning ways for the upcoming weekend. Because week 15 was the exact opposite of week 14’s epic success. In the latest installment, I went only 8-8 in my picks (tied for the worst single-week record of the year), I let people make up some ground on my first place position in both Pick ‘Em leagues, and of course the Patriots lost in pretty miserable fashion.

-I’ve given myself a gag order on discussing that Patriots/49ers game, but I will say one thing: anyone saying that the Pats only caught up in the 2nd half because the 9ers went to a prevent-type of defense is fucking crazy. You think Jim Harbaugh is dumb enough to back off up 31-3 on the best offense in football? The 49ers won the game and deserve a lot of credit, but I’ve seen a lot of comments where people are saying “Sure the Pats put up 31 on the best D in the league, but it was only after Harbaugh called the dogs off and played less aggressively.” What the Pats did in the 2nd half was nearly as impressive as what the 9ers did over the entire game (as reflected by the score). I think it would be awesome to see a rematch in the Super Bowl, but how often do football fans get the exact matchup they wanted? Sadly we’ll probably see a Cincinnati/Minnesota title game.

-Are we done debating the MVP award? Because it’s 100% over. Adrian Peterson wins it. No quarterback is having that great of a season, and none of the QBs with the best numbers are leading their teams to a 14-2 or 15-1 record that usually makes someone an automatic favorite. Peterson continues to top himself, outproduce the rest of his own offense by a long shot and singlehandedly turn a three-win team into a peripheral playoff team. Let’s just save our breath and our internet space and stop discussing this please.

-And if we’re gonna stop wasting time discussing the MVP, can we now finally do the same with discussing Joe Flacco’s place in the QB hierarchy? He’s officially an average quarterback who won’t kill your season but won’t help it very much either. That’s it. He’s not a Pro Bowler and he’s certainly not elite. Think about his mediocre year while having weapons like Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Jacoby Jones and Ray Rice. That’s not the best group of offensive players in the league, but it’s better than guys like Andrew Luck, RGII and Russell Wilson have at their disposal, right? No excuses for Flacco (unless he’s using “I’m just not very good” as an excuse).

-I heard yesterday that the Packers are sticking with Mason Crosby as their kicker. He’s now missed 12 field goal attempts this year, including a miss in each of the last eight games. It’s actually worse than that…he’s attempted field goals in 11 of the team’s 14 games this year, and he’s missed at least one field goal in nine of them. His conversation rate is barely over 50% for the year. It almost feels like he’s trying to get fired, but Green Bay knows what he’s up to so they’re calling his bluff. Is that a good strategy for a team with Super Bowl aspirations? Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots has missed his fair share of kicks this year too, and it got me thinking on Sunday how comical it would be if the Packers and Patriots make it to the Super Bowl and neither coach is willing to go for a field goal. That would be awesome, right? Lots of 4th down attempts, maybe Rodgers or Brady getting a crack at a surprise drop kick. More likely, of course, is that one of these teams will fall short of the final game because of their kicker. I need to make friends with a Ravens fan before this happens so someone can explain to me how to handle that situation.

-It wasn’t just that I had an off week with my picks, it’s that a few of those picks never had a chance as early as halftime. Here’s how much six of my picks lost by: Giants (34), Rams (14), Jaguars (21), Bucs (41), Lions (28), Chargers (24). That’s a combined 162 points! (Or the equivalent of what the Seahawks have dropped on their last two opponents)

-I found this old article that John Clayton of ESPN.com posted on October 28, 2007, where he accuses Belichick of running up the score on opponents. He even lists a few of the specific plays in the 4th quarter of a Patriots/Redskins game as evidence of Belichick trying to embarrass the other team.  You know what I didn’t see in any of Clayton’s bullet points? A fake punt by the Patriots while leading by 30 points. But Pete Carroll does that to Buffalo on Sunday and all he has to say is “I shouldn’t have done that,” and no one thinks anything more of it. Even this season has seen more people try to accuse the Patriots of running up the score than the Seahawks, even after Seattle was running play-action up 58-0 two weeks ago and the fake punt this week. I’ll just never understand the media deciding the Patriots are bullies but other teams who do the same or worse are not.

-I’m actually surprised no one accused Belichick of running up the score when the Patriots put up 28 points as quickly as they did Sunday night. I imagined there would be articles written about how he should have just accepted the defeat earlier in the game instead of trying to embarrass the 49ers by making a comeback.

-In the 4th quarter of Sunday night’s game, the sideline reporter said that Alfonzo Dennard was out for the Patriots due to injury. I screamed at her to “tell us who the fuck is playing in his place,” and I think I actually scared Julie for the first time in our relationship. I’m not sure she realized the intensity in this apartment goes up a notch during December and January football. I believe she has made plans to be far away from me for the next seven Sundays.

Like I said, light week in terms of my reactions…Normal schedule for my other posts this week, but Christmas week might be light again. Enjoy the next 72 hours of sports psychologists trying to tell us that the problem with Mark Sanchez is all mental, and not that he actually sucks at quarterback.